Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ICESaT captures earth in spectacular 3-D images

15.12.2003


NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) is sending home important scientific data and spectacular 3-D views of Earth’s polar ice sheets, clouds, mountains, and forestlands. The data are helping scientists understand how life on Earth is affected by changing climate.


ICESat’s single scientific instrument is called GLAS, for Geoscience Laser Altimeter System. It is the first instrument to map our planet using lasers from a dedicated satellite platform. Using one of its three onboard lasers, GLAS precisely measures the time it takes for a pulse of light to travel from the laser to a reflecting object, in this case the Earth’s surface and any intervening clouds, and return to detectors on the satellite. In addition, other parts of GLAS help determine precisely where GLAS is, relative to our world below. Credit: NASA


ICESat is providing scientists with the most accurate measurements of the heights of clouds and critical observations of atmospheric particles called aerosol. This animation shows the distribution of cloud layers as seen from the bird’s-eye perspective of the ICESat spacecraft. Credit: NASA



The principal objective of the ICESat mission, and its Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) instrument, is to measure the surface elevations of the large ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland and determine how they are changing. Much of an ice sheet’s behavior and response to changes in climate are apparent in their shape and how that shape changes with time. The laser sends short pulses of green and infrared light to Earth 40 times a second and collects the reflected laser light with a one-meter telescope.

The measurements have provided revolutionary accuracy and detail about the elevation of ice sheets and the elevation structure of land surfaces. ICESat is providing scientists with the most accurate measurements to date of the heights of clouds. It is also providing critical observations of atmospheric particles, called aerosols, over the ice sheets and the rest of the world. These help climate modelers, who reconstruct the past and project future climate.


"NASA has developed tremendous capabilities over the last several decades for observing our Earth in two dimensions. With ICESat, we can see the critical third-dimension, that is, the vertical dimension of land, water, and the atmosphere, in new and innovative ways," said Waleed Abdalati, ICESat Program Scientist, NASA Headquarters, Washington. "The first few months of ICESat data have really been phenomenal. We can see detail in ice and land features that were never visible before from space."

Scientists are using ICESat data to develop what are called "Digital Elevation Models," 3-D high-resolution images of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. Gathering these data from space will allow scientists, to obtain an unprecedented view of how and where ice sheets are growing and shrinking. This information is critical to understanding how the Earth’s changing ice cover affects sea level.

Earlier this year, ICESat’s first topographic profiles across Antarctica revealed details never before seen of features such as the ice streams of the Siple Coast, the Amery Ice Shelf, and megadunes in the Antarctic interior.

"The amount and coverage of heavy dust and pollution loading in many regions of the Earth that we are seeing in the initial ICESat data are unexpected," said James Spinhirne, principal atmospheric scientist for ICESat at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. These include the rivers of dust from the Sahara desert, massive dust storms, and large-scale smoke from burning vegetation. The observations tie smoke, dust and clouds directly to winds and global transport.

ICESat was launched January 12, 2003. It is the latest in a series of NASA Earth observation spacecraft designed to study the environment of our home planet and how it may be changing. NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise is dedicated to understanding the Earth as an integrated system and applying Earth System Science to improve prediction of climate, weather and natural hazards using the unique vantage point of space.

ICESat scientists will present the latest results from ICESat during a press conference on December 9 at 3:00 pm PT in Room 2012 Moscone West, at the 2003 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. They will also convene special sessions C31A and C31D detailing these results on December 10, beginning at 10:20am PT in the Moscone Center, Room MCC 3010.

B-roll video is available on the ICESat mission by calling Wade Sisler of NASA-TV at 301/286-6956.

Cynthia O’Carroll | GSFC
Further information:
http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/2003/1209icesat.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht New plate adds plot twist to ancient tectonic tale
15.08.2017 | Rice University

nachricht Global warming will leave different fingerprints on global subtropical anticyclones
14.08.2017 | Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

Im Focus: Scientists improve forecast of increasing hazard on Ecuadorian volcano

Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).

The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New thruster design increases efficiency for future spaceflight

16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Transporting spin: A graphene and boron nitride heterostructure creates large spin signals

16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

A new method for the 3-D printing of living tissues

16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>